I had a sort of time-travel experience yesterday when a celebratory day out with friends took me from London Waterloo in sumptuous style to Windsor, recently the perfect setting for two royal weddings. We traveled in a ‘special event’ steam train of the Royal Windsor Steam Express.
On board the vintage Pullman carriages of the RWSE it is easy to imagine yourself back in the golden age of steam travel as you relax in the plush seats with plenty of legroom. The wood paneling on the walls of the carriage soothes the eye, and the starched white tablecloths on the tables take you back decades.
A champagne brunch is available in the Pullman dining carriages for £85 per person if you want the real luxe effect, but there is also the option of coffee, tea, wines and snacks from one of the charming hostesses on board in the Standard and First Class non-Pullman carriages.
Starting from London the Royal Windsor Steam Express passes many of London’s famous landmarks including the London Eye and Houses of Parliament, crossing the River Thames to reach leafy suburbs, reservoirs and lakes until it reaches the charming Royal Windsor & Eton Riverside Station designed by William Tite for the London & South Western Railway (LSWR). The steam engine used to pull the refurbished carriages is The Mayflower, an original British Rail engine built in 1948.
The station is right in the town and as soon as you exit you can see stunning Windsor Castle on the hill opposite. Windsor Castle is the largest and oldest inhabited castle in the world and is the Queen’s favourite weekend home.
The River Thames runs through the town and a boat trip along this stretch of the river is highly recommended. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time for this: I had done it before but would have very much liked to do it again had we not spent so much time lunching by the river and ambling around the town.
The Royal Borough has a rich mix of history, culture and heritage and if time allows a walk through the town is both practical and easy. If not, the hop-on-hop-off bus will transport you to the main sights in Windsor and next-door Eton. If you can time your visit to take in the colourful spectacle of the Guards marching through the streets of Windsor for the Changing the Guard ceremony within Windsor Castle’s walls, this unique sight could well be the icing on the cake.
Windsor Tourist Office: https://www.windsor.gov.uk/visitor-information/visitor-information-centre
The steam train service runs every Tuesday from 4th June – 3rd September, with three daily services each way between Waterloo and Windsor & Eton Riverside station. Fares from £35 one way. Tel: 01483 209888 Website: SunsetSteamExpress.co.uk
1-Hour Boat Trips on the Thames at Windsor in an 1898 Steam Boat – 4 minutes walk from the station. £14 per person FrenchBrothers.co.uk Tel: 01753 837345
Hop-on Hop-Off Windsor Bus Tour £20. theoriginaltour.com/windsor Tel: 0208 877 2120